The Global Pepper Market has been soaring high! It was valued at an impressive USD 4.5 Billion in 2022 and is expected to reach a remarkable USD 5.30 Billion by 2030, taking off with a steady CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 2.5%. As global cuisine trends evolve, different types of peppers remain the perfect spice for any dish!
Peppers are a widely used ingredient in cuisines around the world. They come in various colors, sizes, and shapes, and each type has a unique flavor profile and level of heat. From mild and sweet to fiery hot, there is a pepper for everyone’s taste buds.
If you’re planning to grow your own peppers, you may be wondering how wide varieties of peppers there are and which ones are best to grow in a home garden. It is a good idea to know which peppers are top quality, especially if you plan to use them in your culinary creations. Despite popular perception, peppers can’t just be interchanged with each other when cooking. Specific peppers yield specific results. This article will explore some of the most common types of peppers and their characteristics.
Different Types of Peppers
Over 50,000 different types of peppers worldwide, yet only a few are grown commercially. One of the main categories that peppers are divided into is based on heat. Peppers with mild heat have a sweet, earthy flavor and can add subtle warmth and texture to dishes.
1. Bell Pepper
Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers, are popular in green, red, yellow, and orange colors. They are characterized by their thick walls and juicy, sweet flesh and can be eaten raw. This sweet pepper is low in heat [0 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)] and is often used raw in salads, stir-fries, and as a stuffing ingredient. They can also be roasted, grilled, or sautéed and added to various dishes. Green bell peppers are the least ripe and slightly bitter, while red, yellow, and orange peppers are fully ripe and have a sweeter taste.
2. Jalapeño Pepper
Jalapeño peppers are one of the most common types of chili peppers. They are small, green, or red, characterized by their medium heat level [2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)]. Jalapenos can be used fresh or dried and are often used in salsas, sauces, and as a topping on nachos and pizza. They can also be pickled or stuffed with cheese or meat for a spicy appetizer.
3. Habanero Pepper
Habanero peppers are one of the hottest chili peppers available. They are small, orange, or red and have a fruity flavor with intense heat. In Caribbean and Mexican cuisines, Habaneros are often used in hot sauces, marinades, and seasoning. They can also be used in small amounts to add heat to stews, soups, and chili.
4. Poblano Pepper
Poblano peppers are mild to medium-heat varieties of chili pepper. They are large and dark green and have a slightly smoky flavor. Poblanos are often used in Mexican cuisine and are the main ingredient in the famous dish Chile Rellenos. They can also be roasted and added to soups, stews, and sauces for flavor.
5. Anaheim Pepper
Anaheim peppers are a mild variety of chili pepper. They are long and narrow with thin flesh and are green in color when unripe and red when ripe. Anaheim peppers are often used in Mexican cuisine and are a popular ingredient in enchiladas and salsa. They can also be roasted and used in sandwiches or added to salads for a mild, smoky flavor.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a medium-heat variety of chili pepper. It is red and has a pungent, spicy flavor. Cayenne peppers are often used in spicy dishes such as chili, curries, and hot sauces. It can also add heat to marinades, rubs, and spice blends.
7. Serrano Pepper
Serrano peppers are a hot variety of chili pepper. They are small, thin, and green or red. Serranos have a bright, fruity flavor and are often used in Mexican cuisine, particularly in salsas, guacamole, and ceviche. They can also be used in hot sauces and pickled for a spicy condiment.
8. Thai Bird’s Eye Pepper
The Thai bird’s eye pepper is a small, scorching chili pepper. It is green or red and has a sharp, pungent flavor. Thai bird’s eye peppers are often used in Thai cuisine and are the main ingredient in popular dishes such as green curry and tom yum soup. They can also add heat to stir-fries, noodle dishes, and marinades.
9. Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Scotch bonnet peppers are a very hot variety of chili pepper. They are small, round, and orange or red. Scotch bonnets have a fruity flavor with intense heat and are often used in Caribbean and West African cuisine. These spicy peppers are key ingredients in jerk chicken and spicy stews.
10. Ghost Pepper
Ghost peppers, also known as bhut jolokia, are one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. They are small, wrinkled, and red or orange. Ghost peppers have a fruity flavor with extreme heat and are often used in hot sauces, curries, and marinades. They should be used sparingly due to their intense heat.
11. Cherry Pepper
Cherry peppers are a mild variety of pepper often used for pickling and stuffed into green olives in pimento cheese. They are small and round with thick flesh and a sweet, slightly tangy flavor. Cherry peppers can also be used fresh in salads, sandwiches, and as a topping for pizza.
12. Banana Pepper
Banana peppers are a mild to medium heat variety often used in sandwiches and salads. They are long and narrow with thin flesh and a sweet, tangy flavor. Banana peppers can also be pickled or stuffed with cheese or meat for a spicy appetizer.
13. Shishito Pepper
Shishito peppers are mild pepper often used in Japanese cuisine. They are small and wrinkled with thin flesh and a slightly smoky flavor. Shishito peppers are typically grilled or sautéed and served as an appetizer or side dish.
14. Fresno Pepper
Fresno peppers are a medium-heat variety often used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. They are similar in size and shape to jalapenos but are red. Fresno peppers have a slightly sweet and fruity flavor and can be used fresh or dried in sauces, salsas, and marinades.
15. Carolina Reaper Pepper
Carolina reaper peppers are currently the hottest chili peppers in the world. They are small, wrinkled, and red with a fruity flavor and extreme heat. Carolina reaper peppers should be used sparingly, as they can cause severe burning sensations in the mouth and throat.
16. Tabasco Pepper
The tabasco pepper is a medium-heat chili pepper [2,500 to 5,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)] often used to make hot sauce. It is small, thin, and red with a slightly smoky flavor. Tabasco peppers can also be used in marinades and rubs for grilled meats or added to salsas and stews for an extra kick of heat. They are also popularly pickled as a condiment or eaten fresh.
The World of Home Garden Pepper: Heirloom Quality
There are an estimated 50,000 different varieties of peppers grown throughout the world. That’s a massive number, but most aren’t considered “hot” peppers. Just 4,000 of those are considered chili peppers.
In other words, fewer than one percent of peppers worldwide are “hot” or spicy. Further, even fewer pepper varieties are considered to be heirloom quality, which is what you’re looking to grow in a home garden.
The word “heirloom” refers to a special object passed down from generation to generation and has attained value through its meaningful journey. In terms of vegetables, “heirloom” has a similar meaning, except that heirloom vegetables come from seeds passed down through the generations. These are not seeds that have been manipulated in any way, such as those that produce general grocery store vegetables. Instead, they are the genesis of organic farming.
Heirloom seeds produce a consistent product year after year, whereas the hybrid seeds used in many commercial growing operations could yield completely different products one year from another. Additionally, heirloom seeds have evolved over the years to flourish in their specific regions, so they are usually more resistant to disease, pestilence, and drought. Finally, you’re getting a healthier vegetable with more flavor since organically-produced vegetables contain higher amounts of nutrients and minerals from growing in healthy soil. Below are some of my favorite different kinds of peppers.
Types of Heirloom Peppers
This is an extremely hot variety of heirloom pepper from Central South America. It has a slightly citrus-like flavor and bears few seeds. You’ll get hotter-than-habanero heat, but after the quick sting of spice, you’ll find the lingering citrus notes addicting.
This pepper is ideal for salsas or any dish with lemon and lime flavors, such as chicken and fish. You can also pair it nicely with fresh fruit that generally goes well with oranges.
Lucifer’s Dream (Habanero Red )
A pepper that’s quite a few times hotter than jalapeno peppers, Lucifer’s Dream is a Caribbean favorite used in many jerked meat dishes. Like the fatalii, it has a slightly citrusy flavor and is often used as a substitute for cayenne pepper.
This plant will yield a lot of peppers, and even though they’re on the smaller side, the flavor is incredible, especially if you like a lot of spice. Use fresh or dried chutneys, marinades, and salsas.
Habanero Mustard Pepper
This is another pepper that originates in the Caribbean, and it’s not only a spectacularly spicy pepper but also a gorgeous one. They’ll grow as small green buds tinged with purple before changing to a yellow-orange color and finally bright orange as it matures.
This is a rare pepper to find commercially, so growing it yourself will ensure access to this fantastic vegetable for jerk sauces and marinades.
Habanero Peach Pepper
A fruity-spicy pepper, the habanero peach pepper comes from the Caribbean and is, as its name suggests, peach in color when mature. They grow well in containers and small gardens, so even if you don’t have ample space, this pepper can be one you enjoy.
It can be up to 140 times hotter than a jalapeno and works well in salsas and sauces. They’re also good sliced on sandwiches or burgers, but a little goes a long way.
Although they look quite like red grapes, you can be assured they don’t taste like them! If you mistake a Joe’s Round pepper for a grape, you will know it immediately because they are sizzling hot!
You might also see them sold under Ammazzo peppers, which is Italian for “small bunch of flowers,” precisely what a cluster of these peppers resembles. They are perfect peppers for salsa or pickling.
Jalapeno Traveler Strain
Named after Larry Pierce of Cabool, Missouri, the Jalapeno Traveler Strain pepper is an American heirloom pepper first grown in Oklahoma, then carried by Pierce to Wyoming and Missouri.
These peppers are milder than most, making them ideal for roasting, pureeing, or smoking. They still pack a pretty spicy punch, though, and you’ll remember eating one! You’ll find them in salsas, salads, and as an added flavor in Mexican dishes.
Joe’s Long Cayenne
A scorching hot, 12-inch skinny pepper, Joe’s Long Cayenne originated in Calabria, Italy, before entering North America through Toronto. It finally reached Joe Sestito in Troy, New York, who gave it his name. Pepper flakes, hot sauce, spicy vinegar, and more are just some of the applications of this pepper.
Some people even dry them and use them to make gorgeous ristras for their Christmas trees. These are a very high-yield pepper variety.
This flavorful pepper comes from the Republic of Georgia, and with a name like “flame,” you know it’s hot. However, it has a sweet side, making it a very versatile pepper.
Its main application is salsa, which has crunchy flesh, but it’s also fabulous in pepper jelly and can be successfully dried, roasted, or fried. They grow to be about eight inches long, and you’ll get approximately 30 peppers per plant per year.
These tiny peppers (about an inch long) look beautiful on the plant, like red Christmas tree bulbs poking up through green leaves. Their small size means they can be easily grown in containers or compact gardens.
You can expect to get about 200 peppers from each plant, so if you’re looking for a high-yield pepper, this one fits the bill. They’re often ground up to be added to curry pastes but are a staple of many other Asian culinary dishes.
As with the Thai hot pepper, the orange Thai is originally from Thailand, and their heat is similar. However, these peppers have a bit of sweetness that the red variety doesn’t.
Orange Thai peppers are often used in seasonings such as chili powder and chili flakes, but they’re also great in salsas, pastes, and hot sauces. Use them in a stir fry to add some color and flavor to a traditional Asian meal.
Bhut Jolokia Ghost
Intensely spicy, the Bhut Jolokia Ghost pepper earned the title of the world’s hottest pepper in 2007 and is so hot that this native Indian pepper has even been the main ingredient in some self-defense pepper sprays.
They are more than five times hotter than a habanero pepper or over 400 times hotter than a jalapeno. Use sparingly in stews, soups, and chilis. They are excellent options to dry for flakes and powders.
If you love spicy or hot foods, chances are you’re a pepper lover and have considered growing your own. There is no better way to enjoy peppers than to grow them in your garden from seed. If you live in a region with short growing seasons, container gardening can be ideal for having a bumper crop of peppers anytime during the year. Heirloom peppers can be easy to grow in a small container or garden if you use heirloom-quality seeds that have already proven to be hearty and productive.